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South Chicago, East Side

4 East Side Churches Will Become 1 Parish As Archdiocese Announces Sweeping Closures On South Side

"We're going to obey what is done, and let's hope we come together with the other parishes," one parishioner said.

Parishioners from four South Deering and East Side churches listen as Bishop Joseph Perry announces the consolidation of their churches into a new parish.
Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
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EAST SIDE — Four East Side churches will become one parish and a number of other South Side churches will close, the Archdiocese announced Thursday night.

In total, nine churches, located in East Side, South Shore and the Southwest Side, will stop holding masses.

The consolidation, effective July 1, involves the following churches:

East Side

Four Catholic churches on the East Side and in South Deering will become one new parish due to financial constraints.

The consolidation involves the following churches:

Annunciata and St. Kevin will remain active, while decisions on what to do with the buildings and properties owned by St. George and St. Francis de Sales will be made in the coming months.

Churchgoers will be able to suggest names for the new parish, though individual churches will keep their existing names, according to Fr. Jason Malave.

Though the new parish will primarily operate out of Annunciata, the decision was made to hold additional masses at St. Kevin due to concerns over access and transportation. St. Kevin is the only one of the four churches west of the Calumet River.

Fr. Walter Yepes, currently of St. Roman Church in Little Village, will lead mass at both locations.

The news came as a surprise to some St. Kevin parishioners, who entered Thursday’s meeting believing their church’s closure was imminent.

“We were under the assumption that we were going to be closed,” Gail DeWitt said. “It’s a bitter happiness, because of the other two churches that are losing what we might have lost.”

The decision to consolidate was made by Cardinal Blase Cupich after considering months’ worth of feedback from representatives of all four churches, Malave said.

Thursday’s announcement was met with frustrations and anxieties from parishioners who learned their churches would be phased out.

A few attendees got up and left once the consolidation announcement was made. After the closing prayer, a group of young girls from St. Francis de Sales openly wept at the front of the sanctuary.

St. Francis de Sales parishioner David Casillas said he believed the decision was made long ago and that Thursday’s town hall session was a bit of a farce.

He’s resigned to the consolidation, but is frustrated that his church — with its “very great potential of maintaining” itself, given its size and dedicated congregation — was selected for closure.

“We’re going to obey what is done, and let’s hope we come together with the other parishes,” Casillas said.

Bishop Joseph Perry compared the consolidation to the Biblical story of Abram and Sarai, where the couple is told by God to leave their homeland for greater blessings.

“As Abram and Sarai did not necessarily know where God was going to lead them, they had great faith that God loved and cared for them and would give them the very best,” Perry said.

South Shore

St. Bride, Our Lady Gate of Heaven, Our Lady of Peace and St. Philip Neri will merge into a new parish.

St. Philip Neri will be the designated church and school.

63rd Street

St. Rene Parish and St. Symphorosa Parish and School will unite to form a new parish.

St. Symphorosa will serve as the parish church and school.

Southwest Side

St. Simon the Apostle will become part of St. Gall parish, operating as a site of St. Gall Parish. St. Gall will be designated the parish church, where records will be kept.

St. Clare of Montefalco will become part of St. Rita of Cascia Parish, operating as a site of St. Rita of Cascia Parish. St. Rita will be designated the parish church, where the records will be kept.

The changes will affect North Side churches, too.

In West Ridge, St. Henry Parish, St. Margaret Mary Parish and St. Timothy Parish will become a new parish. St. Margaret Mary will serve as the parish church for the newly formed parish, where records are kept. The new parish and the Croatian Mission will share use of Angel Guardian Church.

In Belmont Cragin, St. Genevieve and St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr Parish will become a new parish called Ss. Genevieve and Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr. St. Genevieve will be designated the parish church, where records are kept. St. Stanislaus will continue to operate as a church of the new parish. St. Genevieve School will serve as the parish school.

Leaders of unnamed parishes will submit proposals to Cardinal Blase Cupich for consideration.

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